It's been four years since we learned Mr. Big's real name; since Charlotte and Harry awaited the arrival of their adopted daughter; since Miranda was settling into Brooklyn; and since Samantha and Smith decided to see only each other.
If you know the four women mentioned above, then you've probably got your high heels ready to head off to this Friday's opening of "Sex and the City: The Movie" at a local theater.
The popular HBO TV series, which ran from 1998 to 2004, started with a question: Why were there so many great unmarried women and no great unmarried men? Soon, the foursome caught the attention of like-minded, fabulously single women everywhere: They were smart, successful and looking for romantic bliss (or as main character, Carrie, put it, the "za-za-zoo").
Still, for all their fabulousness, they were also flawed. Miranda was often too negative. Carrie cheated on boyfriends, Samantha couldn't commit. And Charlotte wanted everything to be perfect.
The show, which garnered numerous Emmys, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards, gained a second round of popularity when the less-racy reruns starting airing on network television.
Viewers followed the foursome through a dizzying array of lovers and friends, career crises, health troubles and nights out on the town in Manhattan.
The movie picks up in real time where the series left off: Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is back in New York, working at Vogue, and in love with on-again, off-again boyfriend Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth. Charlotte (Kristin Davis), is raising the daughter she and her husband adopted from China. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is living in Manhattan with her husband, Steve. And Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is committing to younger beau, Smith.
Here's a primer to get you ready for the movie, whether you're a seasoned viewer of the TV show or a newcomer.
Don't forget to wear your Manolos (or a good imitation) to the stateside premiere.
It's pink, it's chic — and it's the quintessential drink of "Sex and the City."
Whether you're having a pre-screening celebration with your best gal pals, or just want to kick back in glamorous fashion, here's a recipe for mixing up your own cosmopolitans:
2 ounces cranberry juice
11/2 ounces citrus vodka
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce lime juice
Orange twist as a garnish
Combine cranberry juice, vodka, Cointreau and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Source: "101 Martinis" by Kim Haasarud
Test your 'Sex' trivia
1. What is the name of the town in New York where Aidan had his country cabin?
2. What is Mr. Big's real name? How is it revealed to viewers in the series finale?
3. Before she leaves the work force to become a married woman, what is Charlotte's occupation?
4. What is the name of the bar that Steve and Aidan open together?
5. When does Miranda realize that once and for all, she loves her on-again, off-again guy, Steve?
6. What went terribly wrong with Charlotte and second husband Harry's engagement picture in the New York Times?
7. What does Carrie's boyfriend, Berger, collect randomly as he walks around the city?
8. What pop star plays a party guest in the episode where Carrie dates a younger, bisexual man?
9. What does Carrie lose in Paris after she moves there with Aleksander Petrovsky (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov)?
10. Mr. Big gives Carrie a bejeweled purse, which upsets her. What is the purse shaped like?
11. When Carrie registers to "marry" herself, what is the one item she registers for?
1. Suffern, N.Y.
2. John. It pops up on Carrie's cell phone when he calls her in New York.
3. Art gallery director
5. At their son, Brady's, first birthday party. They are both seeing other people at the time.
6. She had an ink smudge under her nose that made her look like Adolf Hitler
7. Playing cards
8. Alanis Morissette
9. Her beloved gold 'Carrie' necklace when she trips and falls inside Dior; she takes losing it as a bad sign
10. A swan
11. Silver Manolo Blahnik pumps, with a price tag of $485
— Michelle Morrissey
Bonkers for Blahniks
"Sex and the City" launched several fashion trends (giant flower pins, anyone?). But perhaps the most noticeable place where pop culture crossed paths with high fashion was at street level — shoes to be precise.
All four characters spent most of the time jaunting around New York City in high-heeled works of art, namely those designed by Manolo Blahnik.
So what makes them so great? Craftsmanship and artistic design, say experts. Blahnik personally sketches out each shoe design and chisels the wooden lasts used to make them.
Thanks to Carrie Bradshaw and friends, Manolo became a household name among the well-heeled. And he takes it seriously. "Shoes," he is quoted as saying, "help transform a woman."
— Michelle Morrissey
A little bit of 'Sex' in the suburbs
Want to add some za-za-zoo to your everyday life here in the Merrimack Valley? Grab a few girlfriends to re-create some of Carrie and Company's favorite activities right here at home.
r Watch your Elizabeth Taylor strut her stuff. Charlotte's best-in-show had an unfortunate incident at her NYC dog park, but you can enjoy the friendly camaraderie at the Derry Dog Park, Fordway Street, Derry, N.H.
r Indulge in the trendiest treat. Carrie and the girls often discussed Manolos and men while nibbling on cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. To get a little sweetness close to home, pick up a mini chocolate chip or a jumbo fruit-filled cupcake at The Cupcake Boutique, 10 Post Office Ave., Andover.
r Ladies Night Fashion Show Series at Glory Restaurant. Most likely you won't see Carrie walking down the runway in bedazzled undies and impossible heels, but check out the latest local trends every Thursday at 8 p.m., supplied by top stores and hair salons and tunes spun by DJ Dee. Glory is at 19 Essex St., Andover.
r Meet Mr. Big. Or, at least enjoy a martini with the girls at Evenfall Restaurant and Lounge while keeping a lookout. The Bradford haunt is known for fabulous mixed drinks made from scratch. The creative cocktails feature everything from fresh carrot juice to house-infused pineapple and thyme vodka. Evenfall is at 8 Knipe Road, Bradford.
The stats for newcomers
If you didn't' catch "Sex and the City" when it was on HBO, or haven't been staying up late to catch the TBS reruns, you can still enjoy the movie, which Sarah Jessica Parker has described as not following the typical romantic comedy formula.
Here are the stats on the four main characters:
r Spent her 30s dating, dancing, drinking and shoe shopping as the single girl in the Big City.
r Wrote the column "Sex and the City" for the city tabloid the New York Star.
r Had three serious relationships during the TV series run: the elusive Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who was a constant throughout the series; Aidan (John Corbett), the sensitive carpenter whose heart Carrie broke when she hooked up with Big; and Aleksander Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov), the romantic Russian artist whom Carrie left in Paris in the TV finale to return to NYC with Mr. Big. A hopeless romantic, Carrie says she's seeking "inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-you love" — and of course, great shoes.
Charlotte York Goldenblatt
r The preppy, proper Episcopalian sought perfection all around her.
r When her first marriage to a wealthy surgeon went awry thanks to trouble in the bedroom, Charlotte realizes perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be.
r She found love again in her not-so-perfect divorce lawyer: the balding, messy, crass, Jewish Harry (Evan Handler).
r She traded her Christmas tree for a menorah, and after a blunder-riddled wedding, the two focused on adopting a baby.
r Despite her Town and Country reserved nature, Charlotte could let loose when she was around the girls.
r Certainly the 'sexiest' of the foursome, Samantha would probably be characterized as a "cougar" by today's buzz words.
r The most outspoken about men and sex, Samantha was portrayed by Kim Cattrall as the embodiment of sexual power and prowess of today's woman.
r Her tough exterior softened when she began dating a younger man, struggling actor Smith Jarred.
r Cattrall (and the show's writers) won kudos from critics for how Samantha dealt with breast cancer, at times with humor and at times seriously.
r For most of the TV series, Miranda struggled to reconcile her success in the office (she made partner at her law firm) with her failures at relationships.
r Miranda wore the pants in most of her relationships, especially with boyfriend Steve, a bartender (David Eigenberg).
r She was bossy and judgmental, but also fiercely protective of her friends.
r Although Miranda lamented that men seemed to be turned off by her professional success, she found one who wasn't scared off: Steve.
r She had his baby while they were broken up, but the two reconciled and got married before the series ended. And while she and Steve relocated to Brooklyn, you can never truly take the Manhattan out of a city girl.
-- Michelle Morrissey